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Gilbert Burns ‘100 percent’ confident he can submit Demian Maia on the ground

Gilbert Burns
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Few fighters ever volunteer to test themselves on the ground against Demian Maia, but Gilbert Burns welcomes that opportunity.

As a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with a long list of grappling accolades, Maia has long been considered the gold standard when it comes to the best submission specialists in the UFC.

Maia has picked up 14 career wins by submission, including 11 inside the Octagon. What’s more, he’s never tried to hide his intentions: To drag opponents to the ground and twist and turn limbs like something out of a horror movie.

That’s the reason why most fighters do everything possible to avoid going to the ground with Maia. But Burns has no fear if that’s the kind of fight he faces on Saturday in the co-main event at UFC Brasilia.

“I’m extremely confident going to the ground with him,” Burns told MMA Fighting. “I hope the fight goes to the ground. I’m super confident in my skills going to the ground against anyone. I like it. I love that idea.

“But I have a lot of options going into that fight in terms of striking, my gas tank. He’s got his strengths as well, but I think I’m going to have a couple more options. I’m definitely going to bring it to him. I cannot even put into words how excited I am for this fight.”

Burns knows he has a lot of ways he can win the fight with Maia. But he’d be crazy not to recognize how special it would be to wrap up a submission against one of the greatest ground fighters in history.

It’s rare that many opponents go to the canvas with Maia and survive, much less mount much offense of their own. But Burns has earned a similar reputation throughout his own career, and he truly believes he can become the first person in the UFC to force Maia to tap.

“I think that would put me on the map, especially in jiu-jitsu,” Burns said about submitting Maia. “He’s been doing a great job talking about jiu-jitsu and defending the flag of jiu-jitsu, but I think I’m doing it as well. The thing is I’m not doing that every single fight, because I’m putting a lot of effort into my stand up as well. I feel very comfortable. A couple of guys I took down and finished them, but a couple other guys, when the fight got started, I feel comfortable on my feet and I got a couple knockouts.

“But I represent jiu-jitsu, too and I 100 percent believe I can finish Demian Maia by knockout, by submission and I’m going to work super hard for that. That’s what I’m looking for. What’s my prediction for the fight? I’m looking for the finish, either knockout or submission. But a submission would be special against Demian.”

A win over Maia no matter how it happens would be huge for Burns’ career as he looks to climb the ranks in one of the UFC’s toughest divisions. Lately, he’s been all about staying busy and offering to take short notice fights whenever the UFC needs a welterweight. If he wins on Saturday night, he’ll sit among the best fighters in the division. But don’t expect him to suddenly start turning down opponents just because there’s a higher number next to his name.

“I’m going to be very honest, and people might get mad at me saying this, but after I beat Demian Maia, I don’t want to sit down and wait for the perfect fight or the perfect scenario,” Burns explained. “Maybe (I’ll) sit down for six months (of) waiting. For sure, I’m not going to fight just anybody, it’s got to make sense, but probably anyone in the top-10.

“I have a big problem to take care of first, but if Colby [Covington] is busy and the title fight is busy, I’m not going to sit down and wait. That’s not me. I’m telling you right now I want to be busy. I don’t want to sit down and wait.”

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